Sunday, 8 December 2013

Panels And Captions

Words in a comic strip can be in speech balloons, thought balloons or captions, although thought balloons are no longer used. If a character's thoughts are to be disclosed, then this is done through captions - as the character effectively narrates that part of the story.

Either a story is told exclusively through visuals and dialogue or, alternatively, use is still made of captions although these should not convey information that can be put into the pictures. Some Alan Moore strips contain semi-poetic descriptions complementing the visuals, e.g., "Rite of Spring" on pp. 184-205 of Swamp Thing: Love And Death (New York, 1990); also, Moore's Superman-Swamp Thing story.

In "24 Hours" on pp. 158-182 of The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes (New York, 1995), Neil Gaiman tells two parallel stories. We see Bette serving coffee while we read about her fiction writing - " longhand on yellow legal pads" (p. 159). (I think that was how John Grisham started?)

Gaiman describes twenty four hours of horror so the captions help to summarize and expound what occurs in the panels, e.g., "Conflict, he decides, reveals character..." as we see the victims fighting on p. 170.

Basically, words and pictures cooperate instead of confounding or contradicting each other.

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